H.A.L.F.: The Makers follows two groups of protagonists under the threat of an alien race. What direction did you want to take this novel that was different from the first book in the series?
The first book deals mainly with the idea that the aliens known as the Roswell Greys (those ubiquitous big-eyed, bulbous-headed aliens) are the alien threat. Book one brings the reader in with familiar imagery and ideas such as the Roswell crash, the Greys and government conspiracy reminiscent of the X-Files.
In The Makers (book two), my goal was to expand on the familiar alien mythology. I introduced my own alien species as well as my own ideas about the Roswell Greys. This expanded the story significantly. Books two (The Makers) and three (ORIGINS) are more epic in scope than in book one (The Deep Beneath).
The characters in this novel are once again intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
Thank you for that compliment! 🙂 I enjoy writing all of the characters and especially had fun creating the sexual tension between Jack and Anna and also between Erika and Tex (though their tension really amps up in book three ;-).
But overall, I most enjoy writing in Tex’s perspective. Given that he’s only half-human, it’s fun spending time in his head! I like seeing our world through his eyes. Tex has strange, other-worldly experiences with the Regina and the Conexus in The Makers. Those scenes were creepy and fun to write! And his story grows and gets even better, I think, in book 3 (ORIGINS – releasing 8/24/17).
I thoroughly enjoyed the well crafted mystery and the detailed characters. What is your writing process like?
Thank you, again, for your kind words. My writing process is messy! When I first began writing fiction, I outlined extensively. I was an attorney for 20 years, so planning was in my nature!
But after writing two or three novels, I found that I no longer followed outlines I created. The more experience I get as a writer, the more I focus on character development in my pre-write planning. I write back story, flesh out motivation and details about the characters. For both The Makers (H.A.L.F. #2) and ORIGINS (H.A.L.F. #3), I did not outline the plot. I have a general idea—beginning point, middle point and end point. I focus, for each POV character, on what needs to happen for this character for the story to end.
For The Makers, because there are two separate plot lines, I wrote the Tex and Erika portions all at once, then the Jack and Anna portions, then the U’Vol chapters. I then had to thread them together. Phew!
Writing in this way takes quite a bit more time than following a detailed outline. I generally cut anywhere from 20,000-50,000 words and have to rewrite and revise for months. But I think that because I don’t pre-plan, the story has more surprises than if I planned it all out. When I’m in the flow, the story goes in unpredicted ways. I hope that readers enjoy the unpredictability and surprises in the plot.
What are some writers or books that you felt inspired you and this series?
I was inspired by George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. I know that may sound odd given that the H.A.L.F. series is young adult Sci-Fi—no dragons! But I read all five of the GoT series while writing book one (The Deep Beneath) and I was inspired to make the H.A.L.F. series into a more complex story. Most young adult books follow a single protagonist, often told in first person, and generally in a fairly linear fashion. I wanted to push the boundaries a bit and write a YA book with multiple storylines and point-of-view characters. This idea was in direction reaction to my love of G.R.R.M’s writing style.
I was also heavily inspired by Chris Carter’s work in the X-Files. I tried to emulate the creepy vibe of the X-Files as well as drawing out the mystery the way the X-Files did. You think the “bad guy” is one person, but it may turn out to be someone else—or something else—entirely. Readers of the H.A.L.F. series won’t know all of the answers to the many questions raised until the very end of the series! And I think they’ll be surprised by how it all turns out!
“The Makers” is the follow-up to Natalie Wright’s multiple award-winning debut science fiction novel “H.A.L.F.: The Deep Beneath.” “We’ve seen grey aliens on T.V. and in movies. We may think we know all about them. But what if everything we think we know is wrong?” Erika Holt dodged death and departed Earth in an alien ship. It wasn’t how she’d planned to spend her senior year. Is Erika on her way to paradise? Or to a hell worse than the underground lab she escaped? The greys rescued Tex from A.H.D.N.A. and promised him a life he could never have imagined. But what will he have to give up to become one with The Conexus? Jack Wilson is still Commander Sturgis’ prisoner, but a promise of freedom comes from an unlikely source. Will his liberation cost more than he’s willing to pay? Caught up in their personal battles and focused on our war with the grey aliens, will any of them realize the true threat that looms over us all before it’s too late?
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The Secrets of all Secrets follows Zane who receives a USB from a stranger that contains a message that promises the Secret of All Secrets. What was the inspiration for the setup to this fun novel?
I wanted the premise of the story to be wacky and like a fairy tale with epistemological overtones. Many of us grew up with fairy tales of one sort or another, so the concept is recognizable. The USB is Jack’s bean stalk. Once it’s there, he has to climb it. The USB idea occurred to me because I use them in my work as a college professor. I wondered what would happen if all knowledge, the meaning of life, etc. were on one? The next question: What parties would want to pursue The Secrets and to what lengths will they go to get them?
In this story you combine irony with wry humor and manage to keep it all topical. What themes did you want to explore when you started this book?
The overarching theme is illustrated by Shakespeare’s line from The Tempest: “The stuff that dreams are made on,” which is what The Secrets represent. What would be the government’s dream for getting The Secrets? Probably something to do with gaining ultimate power. Corporate America’s dream? Wasn’t there someone who said there’s no such thing as making too much money? The two crazy extremists’ dream is to create an Anti-Amerika, “Amerika with a k.” That the representatives of these entities are comical bunglers illustrates the way in which human beings can wreck any mission. As for the two main characters, Zane and Dali—Everyman and Everywoman—the dream is more about self discovery. It’s a classic conflict: individuals versus institutions and malevolent factions. Jack versus the Giant.
Zane and Dali are both enthralling characters. How did you set about creating their dynamic relationship?
What’s kind of funny is that when I started the novel, there was no Dali. Once I got to the point in the story where Zane begins his quest, I knew he needed a partner, someone equally smart, resilient, and resourceful but with a different sensibility. Zane is an intellectual. Dali is more pragmatic. There is tension between them, but there’s also balance. “Two peas in a pod,” as is stated ironically early in the book. It doesn’t hurt that they are attracted to each from the start without admitting it to themselves.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m working on a satire of political correctness. I’m hoping to finish it and have it published in a year or two. Some of this is dictated by my teaching schedule, but if you know any publishers willing to give me a triple figure advance, I think I could work a little faster.
Zane, a seminary and grad school dropout, obtains a USB drive left by a cloaked figure on a bridge in the middle of the night. The drive’s content offers Zane “The Secrets of All Secrets”—a tantalizing proposal for someone who has nothing left to lose.
Following the drive’s directions, Zane heads to Florida where he encounters Dali, a poor waitress who received an identical USB. Initially clashing, they band together, taking a chance that The Secrets are genuine as they receive more instructions from their USBs.
Four conflicted government operatives; an extremely tall corporate executive with an extremely short, scholarly hit man in tow; and two crackbrained, fringe-element, anti-government separatists are after The Secrets—and are all willing to kill to get them.
Zane, Dali, and their pursuers encounter an armadillo festival, visit a nudist resort, and hang out with a presumed dead ’60s rocker. Pandemonium occurs at each venue with Zane and Dali one step ahead of everyone… that is, until all parties convene for a climactic confrontation over The Secrets.
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What is this book about?
This book provides comments on political issues and events, including Chinese reforms, politics, culture, Islamic reformation, contradictions in Western free market economy, and rise of right-wing forces and nationalism under the drive of the development of robot and internet.
This book shows totally new points of view and perspectives to readers, which is helpful for readers.
What are the benefits of your book to readers!
The western world is being in the flood of nationalism and right-wing forces, and great differences and gaps occur. The resulting outcomes include mass unemployment, and severe social problems. We can consider, comprehend and solve such problems from a totally new perspective.
What inspired you to write this book?
I have been voicing my comments on the Internet, and most of my comments have been adopted by the government. I think it is time to compile these comments into a book to share with the public.
Almost all my commentary articles are dated, and you can verify my comments and judgment on political events according to the date and the progress of relevant political events.
Who do you target?
Although my viewpoints in this book are profound and afford for thought, they are presented colloquially. Thus, all people can understand me.
That’s to say, this book is suitable for all people.
How long did you spend writing this book?
The first article in this book was written in April 2004, and the last in March 2016. My recent articles are available at http://www.aaamary9.com for free, and new articles are written every month.
How did you get this title?
All religions have entered the dharma ending age, the power of all religions will disappear, and the world will fall into chaos and crisis subsequently. I intended to help readers redefine good and evil or bring the evil to trial via case analysis. Thus, I titled this book Century sentence.
Why did you choose this cover?
This book is full of sharpest contradictions and evilest events in the world, so the author is heavy-hearted. This cover is the best expression of the author’s feeling.
What is the largest difficulty of this book?
This book is not consistent literally and internally.
Ordinary readers can understand the literal meaning only, and I don’t think there are many people who are able to perceive the connotation of the book. Thus, many readers will misunderstand the author, or the author deliberately intends to make him be misunderstood.
What do you want to say to readers?
The author will never mind any kind of comments from readers, positive or negative.
Author Links: Amazon
This book consists of three parts:
1. The commentary on China
The commentary on China proceeds from the analysis of the Chinese political phenomena on the basis of the creation of human consciousness, subconscious, culture, and the origin of Chinese culture in order to provide opinions on China’s reform from the perspective of an ordinary worker and to try to change the political environment in China with the strength of a netizen.
Though most of my remarks had been deleted for being too extreme, yet in my point of view, my remarks posted on the Internet did make a difference on public opinion, thus affecting the political direction of China.
2. The commentary on Islam
Chinese government has long been harboring Islam, with whom I had imprisoned my anger. However, I was pushed over the edge when I heard the news that terrorists of ISIS ornamented poles with human heads. I decided to crush Islam on my own as an ordinary netizen.
Islam is not as horrible as what you have imagined, but it will be easily crushed and swept like a piece of trash as long as proper methods and theories are adopted.
3. The commentary on Western and other countries
Western countries are respected for a reason–its advancement–yet there are certain irreparable deficiencies, and they are revealing themselves. Something terrible might happen if these deficiencies are not properly handled.
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In the not-so-distant future, population control becomes a necessity. Turning eighteen, Kyle Sonnet leaves the State Orphanage and becomes an employee of the Department of Population Control. As a wagon driver, he follows the ambulance to emergency calls and collects bodies for Government disposal. However, it isn’t long before Kyle understands that, due to the collapse of the healthcare system and contrary to what he has seen on the news, euthanasia has become the universal solution. But when he suddenly witnesses a horror he cannot accept, Kyle is forced to decide whether to become another pawn of Society or risk escape, which will result in certain death.
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Douglas Wells’, debut novel, The Secrets of all Secrets begins with a mysterious stranger, who issues a fateful quest. The reader follows Zane, a graduate school and seminary drop-out, who receives a USB from the stranger. The USB contains a message that promises the Secret of All Secrets and he is pressed to go find out how far the rabbit hole goes. He soon meets a waitress at a diner, named Dali, who received a similar USB. They initially butt heads, but they soon come together to figure out the mystery. They are dogged at every step by four conflicted government agents, who pursue them to the very end.
Wells combines smart, informed prose with fun, engaging dialogue to create an interesting story that hails the modern quest narrative, but also the old-fashioned road narrative calling to mind Jack Kerouac and others of that generation. There are plenty of moments where Zane calls back to his graduate school education with references to Pascal and Tolstoy, which do become a bit pandering to a point, but soon get lost in the action that ensues.
Zane and Dali are both enthralling characters, where Wells’ skill shines through and even shows up among the government agents who serve as the bulk of antagonism in the novel. The decent character portrayal also smoothes over the often-sparse description and scene setting that would normally keep the reader engaged, but the characters are able to do this on their own. The ideological lines that all the characters have seem to be commentary on our day to day lives, from government drones to Zane’s cynicism.
The setting of Northern Florida was an interesting choice and provides a unique setting rich in regional idiosyncrasies as well as clashing rural and coastal tendencies. Zane and Dali adventures are increasingly crazy and fit in with this setting choice. They venture into an armadillo festival, nudist resort and even find a presumed dead 60’s rocker. All of this combines to be a sort of satire of American politics and greed.
All in all, The Secrets of all Secrets will keep the reader’s attention until the very end with its light-hearted prose and topical social commentary. Wells blends the ironic with wry humor and never misses a point to push the absurdity of his tale a little farther, as if encouraging the reader to do the same.
Pages: 224 | ASIN: B07147R17F
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Into The Liquor Store follows Bink, a graffiti artist and connoisseur of cannabis, through a series of life events set against a dystopian future. What was your inspiration for this creative novel?
When I started writing the novel, it was supposed to be an autobiographical movie. Then I decided to have the events take place in the future; mostly so that I wouldn’t get in trouble with my family. With hesitation I let my mother read the first chapter, and she suggested I write it as a book instead. I even reached out to an Iranian graffiti artist who goes by A1one (Alone) and he gave me some encouraging words. Bink makes a reference about him in the novel as well.
Bink’s character slowly builds throughout the novel and ends up being a fairly deep person. What were the themes you used when creating his character?
I focused on Bink’s trajectory and growth. The last thing I wanted was a one dimensional character. He relies heavily on his connections, he has flaws, and towards the end he’s redeemed to an extent. I didn’t want Bink to be Mr. Perfect, and I wanted the people who interact with him to hold him accountable.
The novel is set in a dystopian future earth where graffiti is a regulated art form and taggers are well respected. Where did this idea start for you and how did it develop as you wrote?
In the prologue we start to see Bink’s love for the 21st century, 2010 through 2019 to be exact, embraced in his nature. He refers to it as a classic era. So I imagine there must be galleries that depict street art in the same light as the Renaissance. Art and specifically painting, I feel will be around forever.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
The next book is still being developed. I can’t say much about it, but it will take place in the same universe as Into The Liquor Store. It will focus on the behind the scenes work of the government. The movie adaptation, of the same name, is being completed and soon my collaborator and I will send it to contests.
The worst has yet to happen to Le’roy, of Egyptian and Russian decent, when his girlfriend of three years breaks up with him; dealing with the conflicting societies of a 23rd century Iran, he often feels nostalgia for a century to which he was not born.
Le’roy, an artist who abstains from tobacco and alcohol, bombards his mind with vices such as: lust, marijuana, and psychedelics. He must come to terms with his heightened status of celebrity and the fact that a lottery can enhance his lifestyle, but a vision transcends a lifetime.
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H.A.L.F by Natalie Wright tells the story of H.A.L.F 9, a Human-Alien Life Form that escapes from the military facility where he was created. During the course of his escape, H.A.L.F 9 meets teenagers, Erika, Jack and Ian, with whom he strikes up a friendship. Among other abilities, H.A.L.F 9 has extreme telekinetic and telepathic powers which make him a valuable asset to the government and one that they are not willing to lose. The government, claiming ownership of H.A.L.F 9’s life, sets out to retrieve him. Having no human technology that can match H.A.L.F 9’s power, they have to enlist a force stronger and more cunning than even H.A.L.F 9 is prepared to face.
Right from the start of the book the characters are likable and relatable. Even though the first couple of chapters were a bit confusing, each one was intriguing enough to make me want to keep reading. It isn’t immediately obvious how the characters in the first chapters are related to one another, but once you do discover the connection the direction of the story makes perfect sense. The writing is actually done very well for a Young Adult novel; which the book appears to be, as all the main characters are teenagers. I was very surprised at how each chapter really kept me on the edge of my seat; my interest in finishing the book never waned. Most books have at least a few chapters that are somewhat slow but I didn’t find this to be the case with H.A.L.F., it kept a great pace and remained interesting throughout. I think the struggle within H.A.L.F 9 between his alien and human personalities were done incredibly well. Having spent hardly any time at all actually interacting with humans on a personal level, he isn’t quite sure what to make of the new feelings that he experiences outside of the facility. For instance, there is a moment at which he finds himself wanting Jack to feel pain, even though he can acknowledge that Jack has never done anything to deserve his ill will. H.A.L.F 9 isn’t able to recognize that he feels this way toward Jack because of Jack’s romantic involvement with Erika, whom H.A.L.F 9 is also developing romantic feelings towards. I also appreciated how this aspect of the characters relationships is subtle and not the focus of any particular chapter in the story. Sometimes Young Adult fiction does not have a good balance of romance to substance but this book does not have that problem.
Natalie Wright does an excellent job with the element of surprise. I don’t want to give any spoilers so I will just say that in several places throughout the book the outcome that I was imagining is not at all what came to pass. I eagerly await the next installment of this series.
Pages: 293 | ASIN: B00R6U32CA
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Nancy is like any woman in the prime of her life; active, engaged with hobbies, and busy with a normal day job. But underneath the surface, she is anything but ordinary. Plagued with a strange form of narcolepsy, Nancy can’t help but feel the grip of forces other than her own. With her uncle’s seemingly gracious help coming into question, she is soon exposed to the world of government conspiracy, mind control and espionage. It’s up to her to find out who’s behind it all, but can she get a grip in time to save herself and others?
Tantra Bensko’s Glossolalia is a thrilling and bumpy ride through the mind of a woman who comes off initially as relatively boring and normal. She’s crushing on a co-worker and at the mercy of jokes from her cube mates. She has her hobbies, piano and karate, and a good friendship with a girl named Alyssa. After Nancy’s parents died mysteriously when she was younger, her uncle Geoff took her into his care and provided her with a stable job at his corporation. Plagued with fugue states and narcolepsy her whole life, her uncle has also been giving her a steady supply of pills that she can’t seem to break her addiction to. She starts to question her uncle’s intentions and in an effort to break free from him and the pills, she coincidentally starts to reveal Geoff’s much darker agenda for her.
Initially, I began to question Nancy’s motives and her own sanity. The writing was quite scattered and jumped around enough to make me wonder if Nancy was just in a constant state of a psychotic break. In one moment her mind was scrambling for answers and in the next it was calm and reasonable. It took quite some time to figure out the relationship between Emily, Angela and Nancy, but the slow reveal did add to the suspense. Nancy’s tenacity and constant questioning of her life kept the book moving along at a nice pace. And there is plenty of references to the Nevermind, the CIA, MKULTRA, and other government groups which helps to build the psychological suspense of the novel.
Pages: 250 | ASIN: B01I8SLVTY
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Globes Disease by Lance Keeble is an edge of your seat thriller! We follow Jodi and several of her friends as they deal with an affliction affecting all of them. Their small town is under siege by a Vampire, who hunts those with such an affliction and government agencies promising them a cure. This strange mix of individuals must come together if they hope to survive. They will not only have to fight for each other, but fight to keep their humanity in the process.
I did not know what to expect going into this book. The cover art was interesting, as was the title, but once the story got going I was more mystified by what genre this novel fits into. It’s not quite science fiction, even with the disease device. It does not feel paranormal with the vampire and lycanthropy. Even with the suspense/thriller elements thrown in, they alongside with all the other speculative fiction elements do not define the book entirely. For the indiscriminate genre reader, this book is for sure a treat, because it plays with all the familiar conventions found in those respective genres.
From page to page, Keeble’s prose is electric. The characters jump off the page with each thought and action that they conduct. And to some degree, I felt like I knew these characters at one point in my life, because of the breath that Keeble can breathe into them. I was amazed. Some of the names had me scoff, like the characters, Quake and Ano, but as time went on the names kind of went with them and felt natural.
All in all, the pages read very easy and the reader shouldn’t be surprised when they find themselves twenty pages in after a blink. The pacing Keeble maintains is one that I admired, since it lends to the novel’s suspense and thriller architecture. And it is not only that, but the mystery that exists within the early pages of the book, because as the reader you want to know how all these various characters get swept up into this awful mess.
There were some hang ups for me as a reader, mainly along the lines of how many points of view Keeble chose to follow. It makes the chapters very short and it can ready almost choppy at times, since we are jumping from head to head. This flaw is only saved by how well written his characters are.
The final verdict is this: if you are looking for an interesting and pulse-pounding read than I would recommend this book. If you are searching for a book that defies genre convention and definition than this is the book you are looking for. If you desire a book with a fun case of characters bound in a common mission and goal, when the world is so divided, then this is the book for you. If any of those reasons apply to you then I would very much recommend this book.
Pages: 353 | ASIN: B01F0D0GVY
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Reverence by Joshua Landeros is a futuristic military story based around the United Nation Republic, a group created in 2046 as a new reigning form of government. The majority of Reverence takes place in the year 2065, with flashbacks to what ensued during the great war that began in 2044 and how the UNR came to be in power. Reverence follows the stories of humanoid super soldiers Will and Luis as they work under their fearless leader, Chancellor Venloran, and follow his orders to demolish a budding resistance that threatens the utopian world.
From the opening pages of the book, you are thrown into a world unlike ours, from the introduction of the cyborg super soldiers and the descriptions of futuristic technology. Witty banter between the characters pulls you in immediately, and the reoccurring flashback chapters offer a bit of mystery that will leave you eager to turn each page. The story takes place mainly in Washington, D.C. at the UNR headquarters, with a few exhibitions to places such as Iran, Virginia, and other locations with strong political influence. Despite the many flashbacks and location changes, Landeros makes the journey effortless as you read, and his colorful writing style brings the images to life as if you were seeing them on a screen.
Strong elements of action, politics, and even romance bud in the corners of this revolution driven story. As rebels rise up against the UNR in attempts to bring them down by assassinating the Chancellor, life goes on amidst the characters. Themes of forbidden romance are touched on as android super soldiers face their own mortality and the lingering human emotions of their previous lives before their existence was rewired. The satisfaction of mystery solving is included through thematic flashbacks to the beginning of the war that began the UNR in the point of view of a young Joseph Halsey, a prisoner when the story begins. He is a personal favorite of mine, as I love a story of moral transformation and strong beliefs.
Landeros brings together the appeal of a utopian future and corrupt government together in a beautiful way. The story highlights human nature and what is behind a person that drives them to fight against what their heart tells them.
At times, the story was slow, but was always urged along with clever dialogue between characters. It was the super soldier units that made this story a blast to read. The flashbacks that Will suffers in secret and the mysterious connection between him and the lovely Val sucked me in and made me want more. I loved seeing Landeros showcase the difference in maturity with the varying ages of the characters, especially with Cisco. A little more information closer to the beginning of the story about what the UNR was would have helped with early understanding and interest, as well as more time spent on flashbacks for a more clear picture.
Landeros is able to successfully create a realistic and intriguing world in this dystopian novel.
Pages: 334 | ASIN: B01D2A51YY
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